Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Lesson from the Garden?

As pretty as Purple Loosestrife is, it is one of those plants with outlaw status - the invasives.

Before we knew any better, many such plants were sold at nurseries. That was the case with this plant, not too many years ago. But now along with English Ivy, Butterfly Bush and many others, it is being rooted out of parks and gardens in favor of native species.

The bees and the butterflies don't seem to mind its nefariousness. They show up in droves to delve in the many blossoms on each stalk. But invasives have changed the environment here permanently.

Maybe it's a stretch, but this change in perception of common garden plants makes me think of how many other shifts in thought we have had to deal with lately. Risky business, accepted as the norm, led to many a personal and institutional financial debacle in recent months. George Bush once told us it was patriotic to go shopping, but pocketbooks snapped shut so tight this year that the federal government had to think up inducements to spending.

Nobody saw trouble coming when one landlord gradually acquired almost every multi-family building in the city. Then all of a sudden, tenants' complaints turned into headlines. Now we have even worse news about the company and concerns about tenants just having a place to live, let alone proper living conditions.

In parallel fashion, another company is now dominating commercial buildings downtown. Rents tripled and many merchants have been displaced. Some new businesses have not lasted. Do we really know what is happening in the business district? Early on, the company projected a shift to more upscale stores. But the latest opening was for another dollar store.

My point is, things are not always as they seem to be. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20, whether on garden invasives, unregulated financial practices or big shifts in property investments. The city only took a really close look at Connolly Properties in the last few weeks. There is still time to examine the downtown situation and call the players to account regarding their overall plans for Plainfield. An open partnership and shared vision may be possible. Could this be a future topic for the Economic Growth Committee?

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is the bottom feeders that always seem to survive. The rents have tripled and without a thouhgtout plan by the city, will not provide for anything other than dollar stores and nail salons. "They" seem to think that all people in Plfd are on subsidies and dont have money to spend. How many people here would shop and spend their money here if there was somewhere worth spending it on. Look at our downtown. What is worth going to if you live here or are even considering coming here from out of town? OK, we do have Blackberries, the Plfd Donut shop, but what else is a draw??

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree 11:29am. The loser mentality in this city is startling. No one seems to be thinking outside the box, and at a higher level. I think the council is doing a great job in trying to shake out the cobwebs, but it is so entrenched, that people themselves have to wake up.

Plainfield is filled with artists. Where is their place in the city?

So I ask, and will continue to ask every day until November. If you continue to vote for the same people to occupy the mayor's office and Assembly, what exactly do you think will change?

12:44 PM  

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